Risk assessments for public health professionals

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About risk assessments

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) assesses risks to public health to:

A risk assessment is undertaken on a public health threat to understand and estimate risks and potential responses. An assessment does not necessarily indicate an elevated level of risk to the public or that a risk is expected.

A risk assessment informs PHAC and other professionals responsible for managing public health risks. The assessment supports planning, responses and decision making to improve health outcomes for people living in Canada or Canadians abroad.

Risk assessments

Avian influenza


Assessments for SARS-CoV-2 variants follow the same methods:





Additional resources:

Description of types of risk assessments

Risk profile

A risk profile is a detailed characterization of a possible public health risk that may impact people living in Canada or Canadians abroad. Such a risk may require further action. A risk profile explores multiple potential concerns associated with the situation and provides information and expert advice.

A risk profile helps to:

  • understand the risks associated with the situation
  • inform actions to guide a response by PHAC and other public health authorities

Rapid risk assessment

Rapid risk assessments are reports that use standardized scientific methods for understanding:

  • likelihood of a public health threat occurring
  • impact if it were to occur

The methods allow it to be conducted relatively quickly, taking into account all relevant intelligence, including:

  • new and emerging information
  • scientific evidence
  • readily available data
  • expert knowledge and opinion

The process involves gathering, analyzing and assessing this intelligence to provide risk estimates for a specific period and location or population.

The risk estimates include a measure of uncertainty because they rely on information available at a specific point in time. This information can be incomplete or difficult to validate. Risk assessments may be updated as new evidence becomes available.

Pandemic risk scenario analysis

A pandemic risk scenario analysis documents plausible pandemic scenarios, or scenarios leading up to a pandemic, that could occur in the future. Multiple government organizations work together to examine which scenario is the most likely, as well as the worst-case scenario. Situations that have pandemic potential both nationally and globally are considered when working through the scenarios.

This informs early warning, prevention and preparedness activities. Critical monitoring points are established to provide early warning of change should any conditions suggest an increase in risk.

For the general public

Additional information on events related to public health risks are available:

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